Holiday Arts Guide

Shepherd Express Holiday Arts Guide 2023
53212 Presents

5 Points Art Gallery

Acacia Theatre Company

  • Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Nov. 10-Dec. 3

    The 2016 period comedy by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon is fast becoming a holiday favorite. In Christmas at Pemberley, Mary Bennet, a character in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, grows tired of her role as the bookish middle sister and hopes that an unexpected guest will spark romance and adventure. (David Luhrssen)

The Alice Wilds

All In Productions

All Saints Cathedral

Alverno Art & Cultures Gallery

American Players Theatre (APT)

Aperi Animam

Arts @ Large

Bach Chamber Choir

Bay View Gallery Night

Bel Canto Chorus

  • Carols and The Christmas Story, Dec. 8-10 (St. Joseph Basilica)
Black Arts MKE

Black Holocaust Museum

Boerner Botanical Gardens

Bombshell Theatre Co.

Boulevard Theatre

The Box Theatre Co.

  • Elf the Musical, Dec. 1-17
Bronzeville Arts Ensemble

Broom Street Theatre, Madison

Cabaret Milwaukee

Capital City Theatre, Madison

  • It’s a Wonderful Life, Dec. 8-10
Carroll Players

Catey Ott Dance Collective

Cedarburg Artists Guild

Cedarburg Art Museum

  • A Decade of Collection Acquisitions, through Jan. 14
Cedarburg Cultural Center

  • Bluebird Café, Nov. 1
  • The Little Show, Dec. 2-Jan. 14
Cedarburg Performing Arts Center

  • MSO Holiday Concert, Dec. 7
  • A Rockapella Christmas, Dec. 16
Chant Claire Chamber Choir

  • St. Sava Christmas Concert, Dec. 2

    St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral is a unique structure in Milwaukee, its interior covered in Byzantine mosaics. The setting is conducive to spiritual reflection, ideal for the 70-strong Chant Claire’s performance with the Stevan Sijack Choir of St. Sava. (David Luhrssen)

  • 10th Anniversary Winter Concert, Dec. 16 (St. Joseph Chapel)
Charles Allis Art Museum

  • Talk Back Chapter One: Estate, through Jan. 7
Choral Arts Society of Southeastern Wisconsin

Lessons and Carols, Dec. 2 (First Presbyterian Church, Racine)
The Constructivists

Concord Chamber Orchestra

Concordia University


Danceworks Performance MKE

David Barnett Gallery

Dead Man's Carnival

Early Music Now

  • Baltimore Consort, Wassail, Wassail! Music of the Yuletide Season, Dec. 2-3, St. Joseph Chapel

    The Baltimore Consort focuses on instrumental music from Shakespeare’s time. For their holiday concert, the Consort will come armed with lute, cittern (an ancestor of the lute), viols, crumhorns (an early double reed instrument), recorders, rebec (an early violin) and percussion as they perform carols and dance numbers from the British Isles and beyond. (David Luhrssen)

Ex Fabula

  • The Experience: It’s a Match, Nov. 29 (North Ave. Market)
  • StorySlam: Good Music, Dec. 19 (Arts@Large)

    A forum for storytellers, Ex Fabula has also worked to serve individuals with disabilities. In 2016, the organization started The Equal Access Project, which included free workshops, venue accessibility assessments, training for volunteers and the creation of Braille materials. In 2018, they launched the Deaf Stories Project. And in 2020, the organization began offering free pay-it-forward tickets to their Story Slam events and workshops to remove cost barriers for all community members. (Morton Shlabotnik)

Falls Patio Players

  • Christmas Carol, Dec. 1-3
Festival City Symphony

  • Beyond Words: Harmonious Symphonic Poems, Nov. 18 (Bradley Symphony Center)

    When he emerged, the Soviet government hailed Dmitri Shostakovich as the first illustrious child of the revolution; he received commissions from the regime to international acclaim. But soon enough he fell afoul of Stalin, who had particular ideas about art, and was forced to tread cautiously, even after the dictator’s death, for the rest of his life. Shostakovich’s October is exemplary of his subtle defiance and headlines a program featuring 19th century Russian composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Alexander Borodin. (David Luhrssen)

Fine Arts Quartet

First Stage

  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical, Nov. 24-Dec. 24
Florentine Opera

  • Holiday Caroling at the Fireplace, Dec. 12 (Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts)
  • Holiday Carols and Classics, Dec. 14 (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church)
Forte Theatre Company

Forward Theater, Madison

  • Clyde’s, Nov. 2-19
Frank Juarez Gallery

Frankly Music

  • The Journey Home, Dec. 2 (Milwaukee Youth Arts Center)

    The Miró Quartet returns to Milwaukee for the Frankly Music series. Frank Almond remarks that he leaves their program up to them; his only input is sharing what he already has in mind for the full season. For “The Journey Home,” the quartet will play compositions by Haydn, George Walker, Kevin Puts and Beethoven. (Ken Kapp)

Fresco Opera Theatre, Madison

Gallery 218

  • Group show, Dec. 1-23
  • Classical guitarists Caesli Massey and Aiden Wiley, Dec. 3
  • Guitarist Keith Watling, Dec. 9
Gallery Food Hall

2335 N Murray Ave, Milwaukee

Gallery Night and Day

GHS Dramatic Impact

Green Gallery

Greendale Community Theatre

Grohmann Museum

  • Mining Gems: Stories from the Collection, through Dec. 17

    “Mining Gems will include some ‘new’ paintings from the collections vault, but also highlights some works that have traditionally been on display—with updated interpretations,” says the Grohman’s director James Kieselburg. “The exhibition is a cross-section of a variety of working themes and scenes. I chose to feature many of the stories related to the artwork that have been gathered over time, often in correspondence or by meeting relatives of the artists in the collection or those working in industry.” (David Luhrssen)

  • Excavations: Paintings and Drawings by Michael Newhall, through Dec. 17
Grove Gallery

Haggerty Museum of Art

  • Image in Dispute: Dutch and Flemish Art from the Haggerty Museum of Art’s Collection, through May 12.

    It was a time of upheaval and religious conflict in the Low Countries with militant Protestants waging war against religious iconography. “As traditions of artmaking came under increasing verbal and physical attack, artists began to innovate, developing new subjects to accommodate changing beliefs and new pictorial modes that rendered conventional themes with gripping emotion and psychological force,” said curator Kirk Nickel of an exhibit featuring some 50 paintings, engravings and etchings from the Haggerty’s collection. (David Luhrssen)

Harley-Davidson Museum

  • Mama Tried: Bringing It Together, through January 2025

    Mama Tried is an annual invitational for custom motorcycles—from choppers to racing bikes—that draws enthusiasts from around the world to Milwaukee. The H-D Museum’s first major new exhibition since COVID gathers 13 motorcycles, “an eclectic selection of everything and everyone,” says curator David Kreidler. When held in recent years at the Eagles Ballroom, Mama Tried has included as many as 100 motorcycles plus vendors. “We’re not trying to recreate the event but introduce the event,” Kreidler explains. (David Luhrssen)

  • Off-Road Harley-Davidson, continuing
  • Building a Milwaukee Icon: HD’s Juneau Ave. Factory, continuing
  • Tsunami Motorcycle Display, continuing
H. F. Johnson Gallery of Art

  • Senior Exhibitions, Dec. 1-9
  • Beauty Will Save the World, Dec. 1-Jan. 20
Hover Craft

Hyperlocal MKE

Inspiration Studios Art Gallery

  • Oh, the Things You Can Think! (Broadway Bound Kids, Nov. 18)
  • Gabriel Sanchez Exhibit, November
  • The Hildegarde Show, November
Irish Cultural and Heritage Center

  • Cassie & Maggie, December 2

    Nova Scotia’s long been a hotbed of Celtic music, with Scottish influenced fiery fiddles, step dancing and a distinctive piano sound. Out of this come sisters Cassie and Maggie MacDonald like a fresh breeze off the North Atlantic, with a guitar-fiddle-vocals sound steeped not only in the Nova Scotia tradition but also with many flairs of American country music and other contemporary influences. (Barry Houlehen)

  • Ashley Davis Band, December 8
  • The High 48s, December 15
  • Chloe Agnew, December 20
James May Gallery

  • Peace of Wild Things: Mark Thompson, Clare Doveton, Debbie Kupinsky and Craig Clifford, November
Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts

  • Free Improvisation Sessions, Saturday mornings
  • Milwaukee Jazz Institute, Sunday afternoons
Jewish Museum Milwaukee

  • Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse, Sept. 8-Dec. 31

    Women have long been associated with weaving and textiles in many cultures. “Pulling at the Threads” examines how contemporary textile artists have used their medium to reflect on social and political issues. “The museum will add context to the exhibit through educational and community programs.,” says curator Molly Dubin. “The slate of programs includes a presentation of the intersection of race, gender and politics, a look at women’s issues at the U.S.-Mexican border, a deep dive into the missing and murdered indigenous women in the U.S., a ‘Find Your Voice’ tapestry workshop, and many more.” (David Luhrssen)

John Michael Kohler Arts Center

  • Asberry Davis: Run Your Own Way, through Jan. 7
  • Sunny Leerasanthanah: Naturalization, through Jan. 28
  • Kea Tawans: I Traveled into the Future in a Dream, through Jan. 28
  • Recent Acquisitions: Mary Jo Schwalback, through Feb. 4
  • Sharing the Same Breath, through April 21
  • Rose B. Simpson: Counterculture, through Feb. 25
Kettle Moraine Symphony

  • Holiday music, Dec. 2 (UWM-Washington County)
Kohler Memorial Theater

Ko-Thi Dance Company

Lake Arts Project

Lake Country Playhouse

  • A Christmas Carol: Musical, Nov. 25-Dec. 10
Latino Arts, Inc.

  • Celebrating Our Shared Indigenous Roots, through Nov.17
  • Grupo Mono Blanco, Dec. 8
Lily Pad Gallery West

  • Into the Night, through Jan. 7
Lutheran A Cappella Choir of Milwaukee

  • And the Glory of the Lord, Dec. 1, Mount Carmel Lutheran Church
Lynden Sculpture Garden

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Madison Theatre Guild

  • Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Dec. 8-16
Marcus Performing Arts Center

  • B: The Underwater Bubble Show, Nov. 2
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Nov. 7-12 (Broadway Series)
  • Yippee Ki Kay: A Die Hard Parody, Nov. 30-Dec. 2
MARN Art + Culture Hub

Marquette University Theatre

Master Singers of Milwaukee

  • A Timeless Holiday, Nov. 19 (St. Monica’s Church, Whitefish Bay)
Material Studios + Gallery

Memories Dinner Theatre

  • Revival at Possum Kingdom Community Church, Nov. 3-12
  • A Tuna Christmas, Dec. 8-17
Menomonee Falls Symphony

  • Winter Concert: Holiday Pops, Dec. 2
MIAD Gallery at the Ave

Milwaukee Art Museum

  • Art, Life, Legacy: Northern European Paintings in the Collection of Isabel and Alfred Bader, Sept. 29-Jan. 28, 2024
Milwaukee Ballet

  • The Nutcracker, Dec. 8-26

    Many Milwaukeeans mark their calendar each year for a visit to The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s incomparable score never loses its beauty, but costumes wear out and sets get old. This season, Milwaukee Ballet’s Artistic Director Michael Pink unveils his new interpretation of The Nutcracker with updated choreography and lavish new costumes and sets. (David Luhrssen)

Milwaukee Chamber Theater

  • Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, Sept. 30-Oct. 23
  • Laughs in Spanish, Sept. 22-Oct. 8 Liberace, Nov. 15-Dec. 10

    As Liberace, Milwaukee native Brett Ryback, a familiar name Off Broadway, will play the biggest musical star from Milwaukee in the pre-rock era … maybe he’s still the biggest musical star to ever come from Cream City? Written and directed by the Chamber Theater’s Artistic Director Brent Hazelton, Liberace was performed at the Milwaukee Rep’s Stackner Cabaret in 2014. Shepherd Express critic Harry Cherkinian praised that production for capturing “the heart and spirit and, in particular, the charisma of the man who became ‘Mr. Showmanship.’” (David Luhrssen)

Milwaukee Children's Choir

Milwaukee Comedy

Milwaukee Festival Brass

  • Holiday Brass, Dec. 9 (St. Sebastian Parish)
Milwaukee Film

Milwaukee Fringe Festival

Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design Gallery

  • Predecessor: Works from the Layton School of Art, through Dec. 8
Milwaukee Irish Arts

Milwaukee Jazz Institute

  • Abigail Riccards Quartet, Nov. 18 (Bar Centro)
  • Jazz Circle Jam Session, Dec. 11 (Jazz Gallery)
  • Big Band Holiday, Dec. 20 (Sharon Lynne Wilson Center)
Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra

Milwaukee Makers Market

Milwaukee Musaik

Milwaukee Opera Theatre

  • Night of the Living Opera, Oct. 28-Nov. 5 (Broadway Theatre Center)

    The music for Night of the Living Opera was composed by Andrew Dewey with a libretto by Josh Perkins (of the Angry Young Men puppet troupe) that follows George Romero’s 1968 screenplay with several digressions. MOT veteran Julianne Perkins is credited as cocreator. “My favorite thing was when the composer said, ‘The zombie chorus is a descending minor 3rd,’” says MOT’s Artistic Director Jill Anna Ponasik. “I’ve been really pleased by the way the music features the voice. It doesn’t sound derivative to me. It’s tonal. If I had to put it in a category, I’d say it’s cinematic in its sweeping expressivity.” (David Luhrssen)

Milwaukee Repertory Theater

  • Nuncrackers, Nov. 3-Jan. 7 (Stackner Cabaret)
  • Dial M for Murder, Nov. 14-Dec. 17 (Quadracci Powerhouse)
  • A Christmas Carol, Nov. 28-Dec. 24 (Pabst Theater)

    A Christmas Carol is one of the most beloved stories in the English language,” says the Rep’s Artistic Director Mark Clements, who directs this year’s production of the holiday perennial. “It’s no wonder its message of love, hope and redemption combined with the artistry and magic of live theater continue to bring audiences together during the holidays year after year.” (David Luhrssen)

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

  • Ruth Reinhardt Returns, Nov. 17-18
Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra

  • Angels and Cathedrals Concert, Nov. 11 (Shattuck Auditorium)
  • Fall Chamber Ensemble Program, Nov. 19 (Milwaukee Youth Arts Center)
Milwaukee Youth Theatre

  • The Snow Queen, Nov. 3-5 (Church in the City)
Morning Star Productions

  • Mr. Fezziwig’s Feast, December
Museum of Wisconsin Art

  • Lon Michels: Disrupting Patterns, through Jan. 21
MOWA | DTN (Saint Kate-The Arts Hotel)
  • Vaughan Larsen: Everything I Could Ever Want, though Jan. 14
MOWA on the Lake (St. John's on the Lake)
  • A Year by the Lake, through Dec. 3
Next Act Theatre

  • The Mousetrap, Nov. 22-Dec. 17

    What a run! Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End in 1952 and ran without break until March 2020 when Covid pulled the curtain down. The murder mystery reopened in London a year later but why fly to England when one of Milwaukee’s top theater companies is producing it for the holiday season? Mary MacDonald Kerr, a prolific actor on Milwaukee stages, directs the production. (David Luhrssen)

Nō Studios

North Shore Academy of the Arts

Northern Sky Theater

Oconomowoc Arts Center

  • Once Upon a Mattress, Nov. 10-11, 17-8
  • Wisconsin Philharmonic, A Royal Christmas, Nov. 30
  • It’s a Wonderful Life, Nov. 25, Dec. 3
  • Christmas with Line, Nov. 26
  • Girls Like Us: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Dec. 2
  • The Nutcracker, Dec. 15-16
Oil Gallery Milwaukee

Optimist Theatre

Over Our Head Players

  • Who’s Holiday?Dec. 8-9, 15-16, 22-23 and 29 (Sixth Street Theatre, Racine)
Overture Center for the Arts, Madison

  • Madison Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Gems, Nov. 17-19
Paint Cedarburg: A Plein Air Painting Event

Peninsula Players

Philomusica Quartet


Portrait Society Gallery

Present Music

  • Simple Songs, Nov. 19 (Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist)

    Present Music returns to the Cathedral after a year’s absence with their long-standing Thanksgiving concert. “Seeing different strands of our community join together in that space has always been a special experience,” says Co-artistic Director Eric Segnitz. “A featured work, Simple Songs by Aaron Jay Kernis, really epitomizes the theme of this concert— different cultures sharing a common spirituality— with varied text settings from the Book of Psalms, the 12th century abbess Hildegarde von Bingen, the Japanese Zen master Ryokan, and the famous Sufi poet Rumi.” (David Luhrsssen)

Prometheus Trio

  • Concert, Dec. 4 (Wisconsin Conservatory of Music)

    MSO violinist Ilison Lovera joins the Trio for this concert. Lovera suggested “Tango Trio” by the Uruguay composer Miguel del Aguila, and Copland’s Vitebsk, which springs from a Jewish folk song in S. Ansky’s play The Dybbuk. Tisdel said that this is a challenging piece for string players since it involves quarter tones to achieve the Eastern-European atmosphere of the shtetl. Trios by Beethoven and Dvorák fill out the program. (Ken Kapp)

Quasimondo Physical Theatre

Racine Art Museum

  • RAM Showcase: Four Jewelers and the Artists of Color Acquisition Fund, through Jan. 13, 2024
  • Gathering Voices at RAM: 20 Years of Building America’s Largest Contemporary Craft Collection, through Feb. 24, 2024
  • RAM Showcase: Focus on Clay, through May 25, 2024
  • RAM’s First 20 Years: A Visual History of the Art and Architecture, through July 20, 2024
Racine Symphony Orchestra

Racine Theatre Guild

  • Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Dec. 8-17
Real Tinsel Gallery

  • Edging In, through December
Renaissance Theaterworks

Sacra Nova Chorale

Saint Kate - The Arts Hotel

  • Holiday Marketplace, Dec. 10-11
  • Donna Ruff: Focal Point, through Jan. 14
  • Erik Benson: A Happy Place, through Jan. 14
  • Soobin Jeon, through Jan. 14
  • William Lamson, through Jan. 14
Seat of Our Pants Reader Theatre

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts

  • Mary Poppins, Nov. 17, 19
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert, Dec. 8
  • Caroling at the Fireplace, Dec. 12
  • Voctave, Dec. 15
  • Take It Easy: A Tribute to the Eagles, Dec. 16
  • Big Band Holiday, Dec. 20
Sheboygan Theater Company

  • A Christmas Carol, Dec. 1-9
Skylight Music Theatre

  • School of Rock, Nov. 17-Dec. 30
South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center

  • I Got Yule Babe, Nov. 30 at Bucyrus Club
  • Mariachi Christmas, Dec. 7
Sunset Playhouse

  • Seusical Kids, Nov. 18-19
  • Jayne Taylor Christmas Show, Nov. 25
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical, Nov. 30-Dec. 17
  • Tenors MKE Holiday, Dec. 5
  • Dean Martin’s Cool Yule, Dec. 10
  • A Carpenters Christmas, Dec. 11
Sunstone Studios MKE

Theatre Gigante

Theatrical Tendencies

Third Avenue Playhouse, Sturgeon Bay

  • It’s a Wonderful Life, Dec. 13-31
Thrasher Opera House, Green Lake

  • The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Dec. 9
  • Fox Cities Swing Band, Dec. 10
  • The Barefoot Movement, Dec. 15
Tory Folliard Gallery

  • Mark Mulhern: New Paintings, through Nov. 25
  • Holiday Show, Nov. 17-Dec. 30
UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts

  • New Dancemakers 2023, Nov. 15-18 (Mitchell Hall, Studio 254)
  • Premiers of New Music, Nov. 16 (Music Building, Recital Hall)
  • Middle School Honors Band Festival, Nov. 17-19 (Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts)
  • Contemporary Craft Exhibition, Nov. 17-19 (Kenilworth Square East Gallery)
  • UWM Wind Ensemble & Symphony Band, Nov. 18 (Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts)
  • Faculty Violin & Piano Recital, Nov. 18 (Music Building, Recital Hall)
  • UWM Piano Studio Recital, Nov. 20 (Music Building, Recital Hall)
  • Saxophone Studio Recital, Nov. 30 (Music Building, Recital Hall)
  • Chamber Wind Ensemble, Dec. 1 (Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts)
  • Opera Scenes Performance, Dec. 2-3 (Music Building, Recital Hall)
  • UWM Percussion Ensemble, Dec. 2 (Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts)
  • University Community Orchestra Concert, Dec. 3 (Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts)
  • University Community Band Concert, Dec. 4 (Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts)
  • BA/BFA Exhibition, Dec. 6-16 (Kenilworth Square East)
  • Popular Music Ensemble, Dec. 6 (Kenilworth Square East, Jan Serr Studio)
UWM Theatre/Peck School of the Arts

  • Macbeth, Dec. 6-10 (Theatre Building, Mainstage Theatre)
UWM Union Art Gallery

  • Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Voices of Native American Women, Nov. 16-Dec. 15
UW-Whitewater Crossman Gallery

UW-Whitewater Young Auditorium

  • Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Nov. 17
  • Gala Holiday Concert, Dec. 2
  • Church Basement Ladies: Away in the Basement, Dec. 9
  • Lauren Jelencovich, Dec. 13
Var Gallery & Studios

Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

  • Tension, through Dec. 24

Village Playhouse, Wauwatosa

Voices Found

Walker's Point Center for the Arts

Warehouse Art Museum


Water Street Dance Milwaukee

Waukesha Civic Theatre

  • Men on Boats, Oct. 27-Nov. 12 (Mainstage)
  • To Step Out on Faith: A RayDar Production, Nov. 16-17
  • A Christmas Story: The Musical, Dec. 1-17
  • Joel Kopischke’s I Got Yule Babe, Dec. 13-14
  • Twas the Month Before Christmas, Dec. 20-23
  • Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets, Dec. 29-31
West Allis Players

West Bend Theatre Company

  • A Christmas Carol, Dec. 1-3, 8-10 (West Bend Masonic Center)
West Performing Arts Center

  • NBW Players, Clue, Dec. 8-10
  • NBW Band, Dec. 12
  • The WhiskeyBelles, Dec. 15
  • NBW Choir, Dec. 19
  • Tenors MKE: A Not So Silent Night, Dec. 20
Wild Space Dance Company

  • Choreo Kitchen, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (UWM Mitchell 254)

    This new creative process event dreamed up by the company’s new artistic directors Dan Schuchart and Monica Rodero challenges three local choreographers to create a dance (solo, duet, or trio) inspired by the contents of a mystery box containing bits of music, visual art, literature and oddities. Choreographers open the box a week before the show and are allowed just one rehearsal with their dancers. Brilliant musician/composer Tim Russell will respond to the same mystery prompts and add live music. (John Schneder)

Windfall Theatre

Wisconsin Center (Baird Center)

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

  • Monthly Jazz Jam, Dec. 9
Wisconsin Craft

Wisconsin Lutheran College - Center for Arts and Performance

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Art

  • Quilts Japan, through Dec. 3
Wisconsin Philharmonic

  • A Royal Christmas with John McGivern, Nov. 30 (Oconomowoc Arts Center)
Woodland Pattern Book Center

  • Open Mic: Resound Return, Nov. 17
  • Formations Series for New & Improvised Music, Dec. 21
Wustum Museum of Fine Arts